Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) actions toward women "fall short of Biblical standards (Acts 2:17-18)" and require public apology, prominent Southern Baptist and African-American pastor Dwight McKissic argues on April 1 -- an apology like the SBC's 1995 renunciation of racism and slavery.
There are good historic and modern reasons for such an apology:
The SBC was formed in 1845 when women were not allowed to vote in the vast majority of SBC churches. Consequently, women by and large did not attempt to register as delegates/messengers to the annual SBC meetings. In 1885 women were excluded by the vote of the convention from being seated as delegates. The convention voted to only accept “brethren” as representatives from churches to the annual meetings. Josiah Lawrence made a motion to seat women as “messengers” in 1917 and the vote actually occurred in 1918 with overwhelming approval.
McKissic also cites well-known examples of modern Southern Baptist mistreatment of women [1, 2, 3], finally weaving mistreatment of Southern Baptist women, SBC racism and the sexual abuse of SBC women together around the case of now-imprisoned former pastor Daryl Gilyard.
Results of the earlier renunciation suggest that apology to SBC women, while clearly merited, would accomplish little of measurable value. For as McKissic demonstrates via damning examples in his April 7 blog, there are still serious problems:
- There was no black representation on the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. McKissic brought that to the attention of Frank Page at the Louisville Airport in June ’09. Page called SBC President Johnny Hunt, who corrected the oversight, which McKissic calls "symptomatic of the problem."
- "Ten years after the ’95 racial reconciliation and apology statement, there has not been one African American appointed to a position as the Chief Executive Officer of a SBC entity," although there are three vacant spots.
- At the Southern Baptists of Texas Evangelism Conference in February, SBC Evangelist Jimmy Davis "communicated that President Obama was not a Christian" and "encouraged the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention to 'pray that God providentially remove President Obama from office.'" Yes, something about the image of all of those Anglo Southern Baptists kneeling in prayer against Obama does seem racist.
- Baptist Deacon Bill Fortner in a blog entry described President Obama as "the Tragic Negro," a characterization which McKissic accurately characterized as "clearly racist and beyond the pale."
- An Anglo SBC church in Louisiana refused to let Anglo missionaries who had adopted children of color speak in their church because of the color of their children.
- "A Black Baptist Arkansas Pastor who disassociated himself from the SBC in recent years" explained to McKissic that during a missions trip to Mexico with an Anglo Southern Baptist congregation, "one of the Anglo mission team members use racial slurs" for which, when confronted, he did not apologize.
- Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, preached a sermon at First Baptist of Jacksonville, FL., in which he said to "approving laughter" that Black churches take up “twelve offerings.” Caner went on to relate:
"… you go to a Black church gentlemen, you are not going to have on a blue suit, you are going to have blue shoes to match, and your handkerchief is going to match your tie, and your whole outfit is going to match your car. It’s BEAUTIFUL. And ladies: when we talk about black church, we’re talkin’ about hats. And I’m not just talkin’ Easter hats as some of you may wear, I’m talkin’ ’bout satellite dish hats. [laughter]. Big enough to receive a signal, with a curtain rod goin’ down the front that you can just pull the curtain across."
How the SBC can accomplish a resurgence while driving away people of color and, woman by woman as well as church by church, spiritually inspired women, is unclear. Thus McKissic suggests changing the name of the organization to "The International Baptist Convention" to create the opportunity for "a new start in a new millennium." Which might work almost as well as the 1995 renunciation of racism and slavery (the one he dissects by recent example).